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Not many highly regarded prospects have their moment stolen from them like Chris Steele had his stolen from him.
Steele is a five-star recruit out of St. John Bosco High School (Bellflower, CA). He is considered one of the five best cornerbacks in the 2019 class.
At 6-foot-1 and weighing just north of 181 pounds, Steele has the unique blend of size and speed every college football program in the country covets in its defensive backfield. He holds offers from 49 big-time schools but narrowed his list of suitors to just five: Florida, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina and Southern Cal.
In a tweet back in April, Steele stated publicly he would announce which of those five schools he would commit to on July 7. The tweet was well-documented and reported across the college football recruiting landscape.
As the day approached, the anticipation that goes along with an announcement as high-profile as Steele’s followed. Rumors began to circulate about which school he was going to pick and production on a commitment video was underway.
On June 25 the Rivals USC site, TrojanSports.com, claimed it had broken Steele’s commitment to the Trojans. The site reported Steele’s commitment as news needing to be broken as soon as possible—like a sordid scandal splashed across the front page of the New York Post.
“I was pretty mad about it,” Steel said. “My thing was what if I do end up going to SC? It just kind of ruined my whole moment. I was going to drop a video and everything, and it ended up being USC.”
Commitment announcements are like birth announcements and engagement announcements. You’ll know when it happens—and after it happens, the only proper response is applause and well-wishes.
They are, in effect, holidays.
They are not news to be broken by anyone other than the active parties, and they certainly aren’t to be broken and then used as bait behind paywalls—which is exactly what TrojanSports.com did with this story.
Steele didn’t know about it and he was not happy about it.
“To be honest,” Steele told me, “the way it happened was so weird because my mind wasn’t really made up at the time that he said that.”
Indeed, it was not.
On the WOOSAH podcast, Steele explained in detail why picking one of the five schools he was still considering leading up to his announcement was difficult. There are things he loved about all of those schools, and he genuinely believed one of the major appeals for every school not named USC was the distance from home.
“To be completely honest with you, I did not think I was going to end up at USC,” Steele said. “I definitely did not see this coming.”
Steele took all of his visits precisely because he thought he did not want to attend college close to home. He wanted to experience something new. Something outside of California.
But, in weighing the pros and cons of his decision, he found he really did like having his family just 15 minutes from campus. He liked being able to stay close to his high school friends.
And, after all, he already spent so much time on campus. He also has the carrot of an opportunity to play right away. So he chose USC, and he’s happy with his decision.
Steele’s also happy to be done with recruiting. He’s been a part of the circus for three years.
“It just feels really good to have this whole process over with,” Steele said.
Especially, when if you’ve been robbed of your holiday.